I couldn’t believe what I had just heard!
Of all the people for that to happen to - our close friends. I was a bit shocked to say the least.
I had known John and Lily since we all met at anti natal classes, and my oldest child was now twenty nine, so nearly thirty years.
My husband Tim and I had been laughing about something while I was puffing and panting on the carpet, pretending to give birth! The couple next to us started to laugh too and I heard him say to her “ease up on the puffing, or on the day you’ll have a heart attack before the baby is out!”
I looked over and saw a couple, of similar age to us, and as the lady turned her head, our eyes caught and we laughed in unison.
After the class had finished and we walked out, we saw that we were parked next to them in the carpark so we began to chat and that is how our long friendship began.
The most important connection we had was that Lily and I had our babies on the same day, in the same ward!
I remember how she asked me if I did much ‘puffing during my labour’ and I told her I couldn’t remember anything about it apart from the pain and Tim complaining that I was digging my finger nails into his palms!
We discovered that we lived quite close to each other so when our babies were about six weeks of age we organised for John and Lily to come over to our house for drinks and nibbles.
John and Tim had a lot in common as they were both in the same line of work and Lily was such a gentle natured and sweet girl that it would have been almost impossible not to get on with her.
About two years later we found out that we were both pregnant again around about the same time, but booked into different hospitals.
We would go over to each other’s places on a regular basis and became best friends. The children all got on and it was a very easy relationship.
John and Lily were one of the happiest couples I knew. We had other friends, who would continually bicker when we were around them. It got a bit embarrassing sometimes.
After we had been out with those couples, Tim would remark to me that it was beginning to get on his nerves how some of our friends were at each other all the time. “What’s the point of being together?” he asked me.
“Every couple is different” was all I could reply.
But Lily and John were never like that. They were always laughing and very loving towards each other, or it always seemed that way at least. So, it came as a bolt out of the blue when Lily told me John was leaving her.
It was as if I was dreaming. “What?” was all that would come out of my mouth. “No! Why?”
“He’s found someone else” and she began to cry.
I put my arms around her and hugged her. “I can’t believe it Lily. You and John seemed so perfectly suited, and after all this time?”
“Apparently it’s been going on for a while now, someone in the office”
“Oh, my goodness. I still can’t believe it. You poor thing. How did you find out?”
“His phone was ringing and I picked it up to answer it because he was in the shower. I always do, or rather did that. We both did it for each other. Anyway, a frantic voice on the other end was saying “John, John, you need to come over. I need you now”.
“Ahhh” I sighed. “Fancy ringing him at home!” And did you confront John straight away?”
“I just said to him that some woman was on the phone, frantic and needing him, and who was it?”
“He just came out and told me. He was sorry that I had found out this way because he wanted to sit down with me and tell me civilly”.
“Civilly, are you joking? How can it ever be called civil to tell your wife you’re having an affair?”
Lily had stopped crying and told me that John had already packed a couple of bags and moved out.
“To her place I expect. You know Greta, he had changed a bit towards me over the last few months. I didn’t say anything to you because I thought it was just being so busy at work with all the new contracts. I’d even suggested we talk to you and Tim about going away together on a cruise this summer. But never in a million years did I suspect an affair”
“Do the children know yet?” I asked her.
“Yes, I told them, but you know Paul, he said ‘Everything is for a reason and it will all turn out in the end!’ and then probably went back to his meditation in the forest surrounded by the love and warmth that the trees give to him!
“Grace in on her way over at the weekend. I will pick her up from the airport.”
We both just sat, quietly contemplating life and all it threw at you.
“Honestly Lily I don’t think I will ever get over the shock of it”.
“How do you think I feel?” she said to me, sadly.
“By the way, did you find out what was so urgent that she had to ring him at home?”
“No, I never asked. I’m not interested.
We parted ways and Lily said when Grace had settled in for a couple of days we would get together again and talk. “And please don’t tell a soul Greta, except Tim that is”.
“No of course not, my lips are sealed”.
Tim was as shocked as I had been on hearing the news. “It’s hard to see John doing that to Lily. But I suppose we aren’t privy to what goes on behind closed doors”.
“What do you mean?” I asked him, defensive for my friend.
“Well, you know – it’s never just one party’s fault, is it?”
“Probably not, but it would never have been Lily, of that I’m sure”.
“You can never be certain of something like that Greta, not unless you live with the person”.
I knew he was right but I wasn’t going to admit that. My loyalty lies with Lily, especially after what HE did”.
A couple of days later, I blurted out something I knew I shouldn’t have said at the time, and now I was worried sick with guilt.
It was a Tuesday and I had been at the gym for my Yoga class. All the women were standing on the floor, all different shapes and sizes, one knee bent and the foot pressed against the other knee. trying hard to resemble trees! Straight, balanced deep breathing trees, which was fine for a few seconds, until the tree begins to topple! And then you start again!
The woman next to me, Sally was friendly and chatty but quite nosey. “Where is Lily today?’ she asked me.
“Her daughter flew in at the weekend so they’re spending time together” I told her.
All the toppled trees had fallen and it was time for cool down and do some relaxation. “I didn’t see John at the shop getting his paper and coffee the last two mornings,” said Sally. I acted as if that was a statement and not a question and told her “Ill talk after relaxation”.
That was a mistake.
I had no sooner rolled up my mat, taken a sip of water and put my jacket on, than Sally was nipping at my heels!
“Is everything ok with them?” she asked
“Who?” was my reply.
“Well, it’s just that my cousin works at the movies in town and she swears that the other week she saw John walking in to see a James Bond movie with another woman? She also THINKS she heard him say to the other woman, who by the way was very young, “I don’t feel bad, this is just pay back”.
“That is absolute crap” I blurted out not thinking “He had someone else and left Lily”.
As soon as the words left my mouth, I knew it was a big mistake. I felt slightly nauseous. I usually did after yoga, but it was different today. “Sally, can you promise me you won’t say anything to anyone else please?”
“Of course, I won’t” she lied.
I went home feeling dreadful and not knowing if I should tell Lily or not – I decided she didn’t need any more to think about.
Meanwhile Sally went on to work – a hairdressing salon. Need I say more?
Sally’s first client was a middle-aged housewife who came in three times a week for a wash and blow-dry for ‘something to do’…
“What do you mean he left her for a younger woman, how young?” Asked Linda
“We’re talking at least twenty years younger; my cousin told me because she saw them together”.
“Get away. He’s probably got money. I know his father was a wealthy man. He lived in a big house down near the river when my parents were alive. And there were only two kids. His wife left him years before he died. I suspect he had affairs too. Usually runs in the family”.
“Well, the ‘girl’ had on some very expensive jewellery my cousin said, and the bag she was carrying was a Gucci”.
“I often wondered about the husband to be quite honest”, she continued scissors and comb in hand.
“What does that mean?” asked Linda, giving her hairdresser her undivided attention.
“There was one time he came in here for a trim….and the way he looked at my young apprentice was, shall we say, not very nice!”
“No, I’m not!”.
Linda returned to reading the gossip in her magazine and Sally, leaving Linda under the dryer, got on to her next client.
“Did I hear you say what I think I heard you say?” Belinda who owned the newsagency asked Sally.
“What did you hear?”
“John left Lily Gregson for someone almost thirty years younger than him and has already showered her in jewellery and handbags?”
“No I don’t think…” Sally began, then the salon phone began to ring and she excused herself to answer it. When she returned to finish off colouring her client’s hair, Belinda had moved on to talk about someone else.
So that week, a few days later Belinda from the newsagency was overheard telling one of her regular customers that John Gregson left his lovely wife for a ‘girl’ thirty something years younger than himself and had been spending money on her as if his life depended on it! “I think Sally said they were smooching and cuddling in the High Stret like a couple of teenagers, but don’t quote me on that, and PLEASE don’t say where you heard it!”
“Of course not. But how dreadful for Lily. I heard once that either his or her father was extremely wealthy…. yes, I’m sure it was her father, so now he will get half of that money and that’s not right!”
A couple of weeks after staying with her mother, Lily’s daughter had left to go back to her home and work. And Lily got in touch with her friend Greta for a chat.
“No, she didn’t want to see her dad this time” Lily said “it’s too soon she said, but perhaps next time”.
“He’s been in touch with me and wants to sell the house, but I’m not interested in that – I’ll buy him out if I have to. I love my home and I want to stay here.
I happened to be passing the real estate agent where Jeremy, who lives near you, works so went in for a quick chat yesterday. He’s a lovely boy that Jeremy, but I told him not to mention me popping in to any one, just yet”.
“Good idea, the less people know the better” replied Greta, just wondering how many people knew something!
At the same time as Lily and Greta were chatting, Jeremy sat with his mates in the pub, and had consumed a few lagers – unfortunately he was a bit of a blabber mouth when drunk! “Nah, not sold any this week, but I think there’s a good ‘un coming up soon. Should get me a fairly hefty commission”.
“Where’s that then?” asked one of his drunk mates.
“I shouldn’t say really, confid..confide, confidentiality, and all that” he stuttered hardly able to say the word, let alone abide by it.
“Aww c’arn tell us”.
“Awrightt keep it to yourselves”
“Lily Grigson’s place. She kicked him out! I reckon she owns it – think she’s loaded - some big inheritance she got from her grandmother. He’ll be left with nothing. It’s worth a bit. I’m going ‘round ness week” ….
“I think I’ll go away for a few days this week Greta. I need to think about things and I’m not ready to deal with people or prying questions, so before anyone really knows anything….” Lily continued to her friend. “Ill cancel my hair appointment with Sally – I’ll just say it’s for work. She won’t suspect a thing!”